London: Kapil Dev remains the iconic figure from India’s maiden World Cup victory in England 36 years ago after captaining the side throughout their unexpected run.
That fairytale campaign was capped with a stunning final victory over two-time champions West Indies at Lord’s and Kapil was back at the spiritual home of cricket on Thursday as part of the prestigious ‘Indian Cricket Heroes’ event.
It was a triumph that inspired a generation of Indians to take up cricket and laid the foundations for their current status as one of the sport’s superpowers.
All-rounder Kapil, known as the “Haryana Hurricane” during his playing days, modestly played down his role as a catalyst for a sporting revolution.
“We just the played the game. It was nice. I don’t know if it changed the game or not,” Kapil said when asked how aware he was of the seismic shift triggered by that victory.
“Lord’s is always very special. For everybody, not just me.”
India open their campaign against South Africa on June 5 in Southampton and the 60-year-old is adamant his compatriots shouldn’t feel under pressure to win.
“There’s no pressure, it’s a pleasure. It’s a different way of thinking. Pressure means you are not enjoying it,” he said.
“I enjoy playing so I never had pressure. Everywhere in every match you have responsibility.
“It’s a pleasure, you enjoy and have fun. That’s more important.
“They just have to play good cricket. The rest leave to the almighty.”
Kapil sees India as one of the main World Cup contenders thanks to their strength in depth.
“Three or four teams have chance. It’s a stroke of luck required at the right time,” he said.
“You don’t win a tournament unless everybody collectively plays well.
Veteran India spinner Harbhajan Singh insists his country deserve to be ranked alongside hosts England as joint favourites to win the World Cup.
“Still pressure will be there. Not just on Virat Kohli but the whole team,” he said.